by Rob Scanlan, U.S. Master Marine Surveyor
Let’s face it; boating isn’t easy or cheap. Boat prices keep rising, fuel costs keep escalating; slip fees, winter storage and repairs are at an all-time high. Add to that the time and energy required for boat maintenance, keeping up with the ever changing regulations, weather, tide conditions and the new environmental restrictions; the list in front of me goes on and on.
In the end, boat ownership is for those who enjoy boating so much they are ready, willing and able to put up with the hassles and give up other forms of entertainment and sports. It leaves behind those who would enjoy being out on the water if only it did not cost so much or take so much time to prepare for, to clean up after, etc.
So many of them are former boat owners, who had no idea about the incredible costs involved in boating.
When I conduct the sea trials on a smaller boat or yacht, I have my own computers plugged into the engines to do an operational assessment of the engines and instrumentation read-out performances; one thing here, my computers and the figures are accurate and precise – the figures do not lie.
Let’s say you have a 29’ Sea Ray powerboat with (2) small-block, 230 horsepower Mercruiser Fuel-Injected engines. The best fuel-efficient, most economical speed is called “Cruising Speed”. This is between half and three-quarter engine throttle; usually at 3200 – 3500 RPM’s. Each engine is burning 17-19 gallons of fuel
per hour times (2) engines; that’s 36-gallons per hour. The average gallon of gasoline at the marina is $3.25 per gallon. The math –36 gallons times $3.25/gallon = $117.00 per hour. If you take a cruise from Gloucester to Boston Harbor; around Boston Harbor for a little sight-seeing and back to Gloucester, this would be a five and one-half hour trip.
The math - five and one-half hours times $117.00 per hour = $643.50 for the trip if you only stay at “Cruising Speed”. Now let’s say you only do a trip like this twice per month and you only do your boating from June to October which is the average boating season in New England, more math – $643.50 twice per month = $1287.00 per month of boating, times five months = $6435.00 per boating season in just the fuel costs; if you keep the engines at the “Cruising Speed”. “Can you hear me now” throttle-jockeys ?
What must also be factored into boating is that monthly payment; let’s say $400.00 times twelve months = $4,800.00. I do not know of one boat owner in New England with a low boat payment any where near this but work with me. Now there is insurance, and God help you if you are above a step-10 on your Massachusetts driving record; have no boating education, or have a loss or insurance claim. But ideally, with proven boating experience; and proof of boating education, you may pay $900.00 per year to insure that “Water Toy” if and if and if ---.
Now comes the storage, winterizing, covering and spring commissioning. Figures and facts can’t be altered here; that 29’ boat will cost another $5,250.00 - $6900.00 per year; lets say $6 grand to make the figures easy. More math for the boat owner based on a conservative boating season-
Boat payment 4,800.00
Storage, winterizing, spring maintenance 6,000.00
Slip-fee or mooring fee 2,000.00
Food, beverages; swimwear, etc 525.00
Bottom painting, engine tune-up waxing/cleaning 2,125.00
Total boating expenses for the year $22,785.00
Now you know what BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand